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Numbers 15: Reminders

Original Publication Date
April 9, 2016
Updated
Jan 10, 2023 1:35 AM
Tags
NumbersChapter Study
Bible References
Numbers 15
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Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 9, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

God instructs Moses to make celebratory offerings (burnt, freewill, etc.) as soon as they enter Canaan. These offerings were to include flour, oil, and wine in various quantities based upon the type of offering (of the herd/flock vs. a ram vs. bull). We see the common theme and emphasis put upon the offerings to God. During the post-Exodus but pre-Jesus era, God's people were constantly sacrificing animals to cleanse themselves. We commit too much sin for an animal to cover all our blemishes and too often to keep up with the sacrifices. This is why Jesus had to die to cover our debt.

Uniform Laws

Yet again, God reminds the Israelites that they are to have one law for both the Israelites, as well as, strangers in the land. Presumably, the law applied to servants as well. God is telling us here that there were not to be exceptions. Just because you were from another land (say Egypt) and did not believe in God, did not mean you could work on the Sabbath in God's land. While it seems odd and overbearing in our overly tolerant society today, it makes perfect sense. God's law is not an easy law, it never was and it never will be. If believers saw non-believers engaging in easier lifestyles that were against God, it would bring about the temptation to join them. Similarly, if you have people killing and serving any type of animal, how could the Jews know if they have become unclean?

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Did you know that sometimes they use pork in cheese today?[1] Ramen noodles are made in a factory with shellfish (see the backside of the label) and thus even chicken flavored ramen may be unclean. This is what happens when people are following different laws; it becomes much more difficult to determine what you can and cannot eat.
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A more straightforward way of looking at this is that God’s Law, though hard to keep, is still a perfect law in terms of expressing what is or isn’t sin. Israel was to be like a second Garden of Eden, which meant it was to be devoid of sin (at least that was the goal). The same way New Jerusalem, the final kingdom of YHWH spoken of in Revelation, will be devoid of sin.

God gives us hope that those sin unknowingly can be forgiven. During Moses' era this required a sacrifice, today, we call on the blood of Jesus. However, when you sin knowingly, it is a different story. God says that those people were to be cut off from Israel. Purposefully disobeying God is the ultimate disrespectβ€”it's like a slap in the face. When you sin knowingly, you say, "I know God doesn't want me to do this, but I don't care; I'm going to do it anyway." An example, before I learned that cheese could have pork in it, I didn't worry about what type of cheese I bought or ate. When I realized that I probably have been consuming pork unknowingly, I asked God for forgiveness and I know He forgave me. However, now that I know cheese is not necessarily vegetarian, I have to check before I eat it; I don't continue to just eat cheese on the assumption it is vegetarian because I know that it's possible it is not. (If you're confused about why I care that pork may be in my cheese, please see my posts from the

series). Now, I am responsible for what I know, and it is my duty to act such that I am in accordance with God's wishes.

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An example that is more relatable across the board, regardless of where you are in your faith journey is that of how people are punished based on age and mental capacity. While some may prosecute a parent over a child’s theft, most store owners are not going to call the police to arrest a three year old for stealing. Even a person is twenty-three, if they have a developmental disability, a jury is not likely to convict them of a crime. However, at certain age, an able minded person becomes responsible for their actions because they (should) know the difference between right and wrong.

Failure to Uphold the Sabbath

The Israelites find a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath, so they take him to Moses and Aaron for judgment. We are not told why he is collecting sticks, possibly to build a fire, but it is confirmed that this was unacceptable Sabbath behavior. God condemns the man to death by stoning. This is a strong reminder of the importance of the Sabbath. Not only is the Sabbath one of the 10 commandment, it began in the garden of Eden while the world was still perfect. We do many things today that do not seem like work because we've always done them, or it's an easy task, but that doesn't mean God approved of them on the Sabbath. In the New Testament, Jesus shows us how to determine if something is acceptable for the Sabbath. If it is an emergency or pertaining to God or doing good, Jesus says it's ok. I would imagine if you woke up on the Sabbath to find the temperature had dropped below freezing and were forced to gather sticks for a fire because you didn't have heat, Jesus would be ok with that as it is an emergency. However, if you just wake up and decide you want to collect sticks because you don't like how they look in your yard, He may not be so happy about your behavior. I discuss the Sabbath in more detail in the post

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Fringe

I once heard someone say that blue represented the law of God. The were pointing out that many churches neglect the color blue in their decor (red is probably the most common color seen inside the church), and referencing the fact that blue was supposed to remind us of the law. I couldn't figure out how they came to that conclusion at the time, but after rereading Numbers 15, I figured out their logic.

In this chapter, God instructs the Israelites to put fringe around their garments and place a blue ribbon on the fringe. This was meant to remind them of the commandments. Orthodox Jews still carry on this tradition.[2] Blue is one of the colors featured in the adornments of the tabernacle as well.

Interestingly, blue is also the most popular (or most often cited as a favorite) color around the world.[3] Are we drawn to blue because subconsciously we know that God's commands are best for us, or did God choose blue because He knew we would be drawn to it?

References and Footnotes

  1. "U.S. Products Made Without Pork (Porcine) Enzymes".Β Frito Lay. 2016
  2. Holman Bible Publishers.Β Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 259. 2014
  3. Jordan, William. "Why is blue the world's favorite color?".Β You Gov. May 2015

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